International Ice Hockey Federation

Swiss get their first W

Malgin's OT blast sends Latvia to relegation round

Published 21.04.2015 02:29 GMT+2 | Author Adam Steiss
Swiss get their first W
ZUG, SWITZERLAND - APRIL 20: Switzerland's Livio Stadler #4 goes to play the puck while fending off Latvia's Emils Ezitis #21 during preliminary round action at the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship. (Photo by Francois Laplante/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Denis Malgin was the overtime hero as the Swiss overcame a great performance from Latvian goaltender Denijs Romanovskis to win 3-2.

Both countries came into the game desperately in need of a win, Latvia the more so as it was the team’s last chance to avoid the relegation round. Thanks to a great effort from Romanovskis, who stopped 42 of 45 shots in the game, the Latvians came into the third period tied 1-1 with the Swiss.

Early in the third an incoming penalty call on Latvia put an extra attacker on the ice, and the Swiss went back up by a goal when Robin Fuchs took the puck towards the net and used teammate Nathan Marcon as a screen, firing the puck between Marcon’s legs, past Romanovskis and into the back of the net for the 2-1 lead.

However the plucky Latvians bounced right back, knotting the game up again when Martins Dzierkals won control of the puck in the Swiss zone and passed it to Rudolfs Balcers coming down the high slot. Balcers beat Swiss goalie Joren van Pottelberghe with a shot to the blocker side, giving the Latvians, who so far had been outshot by the Swiss and taken several penalties in the game, a chance at a big upset with lots of time left in the third.

Nothing could be solved in regulation thanks in large part to Romanovskis’ heroic efforts in net for the Latvians, so the teams went to overtime. There Swiss forward Auguste Impose drew a hooking penalty against Latvia, the team’s tenth of the game.

Seconds after the Latvians killed off the penalty, the puck came to Swiss star forward Malgin, who fired a cannon shot into the top left corner to give Switzerland its first win of the tournament.

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The victory means Switzerland (1W-2L) will advance to the playoffs and avoids what would have been a disastrous trip to the relegation round for the host country. Latvia (0W-4L), despite having gone without a victory in the preliminary round, has played very well for a newly-promoted U18 nation, and will be a tough opponent in the relegation round.

The Swiss will hope to build on the victory, which saw the team score more than one goal for the first time a the U18 Worlds. Swiss forward Calvin Thurkauf got his team on the board with his first goal of the tournament. Thurkauf gained possession in the corner of the Latvian zone and skated towards the net, taking advantage of traffic in front to get the puck past a screened Denijs Romanovskis.

Latvia, which was just promoted to the top division last season, hung in tough with the Swiss, getting the tying goal late in a power play from Rudolfs Balcers. Romanovskis was able to keep the Swiss at bay through the rest of the period, despite facing almost twice as many shots as his counterpart van Pottelberghe. But despite the team's best efforts, penalties proved too much to overcome, as Malgin later took advantage of an exhausted Latvia penalty killing unit to fire his game-winning slapshot unmolested. 

Switzerland has one final game left in the preliminary round, tomorrow against the Czech Republic.